The Tongue Jangle Manifesto (Part Two of Two)

“A discourse on the state of poetry”

Poetry has led quite a life throughout the ages. The state of poetry as a creative force has taken interesting forms in recent history. The present moment and the promised future hold altogether new realms for poetry to inhabit. This is, in a sense, where the great beast of Language lurks in contemporary society.

The effects of poetry have the ability to hint at the depth of being and at life on this lonely planet. Music and the vast spectrum of art perform similar feats. The pulse of human civilization, though frequently experiencing war-related palpitations, lies in the realm of the arts.

English classes study names that have gathered dust. The archetypal ancient tome of poetry, with its tattered pages, is still employed in institutions throughout the world to teach the classics. On the other hand, contemporary poets of today and of recent history are working tirelessly to make splashes in circles and slams.

New outlets of poetry reflect contemporary times. Much of what is being produced revolves around another tangent – namely, activism. In that sense, poetry is becoming an active force of its own. It’s always been something of a rabble-rouser, and now the whole of poetry has a monumental chance to grow. This comes in the form of advancing technology and the pursuit of a more perfect communication spectrum.

The state of poetry (and of the entire gamut of art) works well as a barometer of sorts. That output of expression and impression serves as the mighty cultural front for all of mankind. Aside from practicing war, ravaging the land and polluting all semblances of life, the main artifact left behind by generations of humans is art.

Poetry is a mighty branch of art; indeed, it is a very important one. It serves to gauge the contemporary mindset, offering snapshot histories of the present. It acts as a brilliant reservoir ready to catch droplets, as well as riptide waves, of creativity. And as students of the mind should unfortunately recognize, creativity is one of the most significant human forces lacking in today’s media landscape.

There are certainly a number of factors that have worked to mold poetry into its current state. The ‘50s and ‘60s played critical roles in shaping much of the entertainment media people consume today. Out of those eras sprang the beat poets and a slew of music-infused poetry. The reinvention of poetry focuses on applying an ancient art to the present tense (that includes political considerations, pop culture and philosophies, among other ideas).

The evolutionary forces behind poetry seem to be consistently reinventing themselves. Prominent poets of the Beat era looked backward at ‘the greats.’ Poets of today garner fresh outlooks on ancient themes and apply the current vernacular. Emotions are filtered through time-space and the progress of culture becomes apparent.

For example, in the 1950s, a trio of poets formed the self-proclaimed “Berkeley Renaissance.” This micro-movement in poetry took classical approaches to their art and filtered them through contemporary social sentiment. Reading Yeats and Blake, these poets took it upon themselves to fashion a new brand of poetry – something that would ring through their own little corner of the world, exploding with local flavor and timeless zest.

When trying to place particular media phenomena, it is important to realize how they grow. The arts are constantly feeding off of themselves, repeatedly producing new concepts that reflect a certain time period – a panorama of culture. A lot of poetry being produced today takes global phenomena and streamlines those ideas into smaller-scale settings. Frequently, the works are tinted with a desire to affect real social change.

While poetry certainly helps the progress of the collective human mind, it still does not rank high as people’s source of information or Language.

In terms of advancing the lexicon of societies, journalism tends to find itself on the opposite front – pursuing a self-serving battle over Language. Those interwoven processes – journalism and art – have, in a way, worked together to be the sources of human progress. One offers (partially) objective conduits for our world to follow, while the other permits a more subjective viewpoint in life.

The discourse must return to the position of Language within the framework of civilization. The written word did not spring out of some idle moment between distractions. It burst forth out of an increasing capacity to understand the world, as well as a social need to transcend isolation. Life feels incomplete when stranded on a desert island of the mind (Wouldn’t one prefer a “Coney Island of the Mind”?).

What follows is a dichotomy of Language between concepts like journalism and art. While they may remain mutually exclusive neighbors within the systems of society, it would certainly help to keep both concepts in mind as students of life. For now, the powers that be will keep those two areas apart, missing out on the powerful capabilities of Hybrid Information Technologies. When one considers that, it would seem like a great idea: People taking HITs of psychedelic news stories painted with stardust vignettes.

The creative forces of poetry are the truly advancing agents of Language – don’t forget that. They shape and mold the vernacular and feed those lexicons back into society. Without poets on the frontlines, people would be mindlessly ingesting noun-verb-direct object headlines day in and day out.

Given all of that, it would seem like a good idea to promote poetry more frequently in the media and in the classroom. Technology is working to mold Language in completely new ways – and many of them are not beneficial to the cause.

One would do well to keep his or her head up and in tune with the poetry of life all around the world. It’s an easy thing to lose in the high-speed evolutionary processes in contemporary society, but it remains one of the most integral aspects of human development through communication.

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